>>Lunt, Dudek Earn Weekly Big Ten Honors
Illinois sophomore quarterback Wes Lunt was named Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week and freshman receiver Mike Dudek earned conference Freshman of the Week honors on Monday after helping the Illini to a 42-34 win over Western Kentucky. Both are the first weekly honors of the 2014 season for Illinois players. Steve Hull was the most recent Illini to be named Offensive Player of the Week, earning it on Nov. 25, 2013, while Dudek is the first Illini to be named Freshman of the Week since Aaron Bailey on Sept. 30, 2013.
Lunt posted the second-most passing yards in Memorial Stadium history and fourth-most in UI history in the Illini win, completing 35-of-50 passes for 456 yards and three touchdowns with only one interception. He engineered Illinois' second-straight fourth-quarter comeback, completing 10-of-11 passes for 154 yards and a score in the final stanza of Saturday's game. In two starts for the Illini, Lunt has passed for an eye-popping 741 yards and seven touchdowns, both school records in the first two starts of a quarterback's career. He ranks fifth in FBS in passing yards per game (370.5 ypg) and passing touchdowns (seven), and seventh in total offense (361.5 ypg) and completions per game (29.5).
Dudek posted his second-straight game with a receiving touchdown, becoming the first Illini newcomer to do so since junior-college transfer Kelvin Hayden in 2003. He had four catches for 55 yards on the game, including a 32-yarder in the first quarter.
Lunt shared Offensive Player of the Week honors with Minnesota running back David Cobb, Iowa defensive end Drew Ott was named Defensive Player of the Week, and Nebraska punter Sam Foltz earned Special Teams Player of the Week.
>>Illini Leaning On Safeties To Lead Improvements On Defense
Taylor Barton's interception return for a touchdown against Western Kentucky on Saturday helped turn the game for the Illini.
And the team (2-0) is so far leaning heavily on Barton and fellow safety Zane Petty.
The two have played almost every snap in Illinois' two games so far. The Illini take on Washington (2-0) this Saturday.
Illinois defensive coordinator Tim Banks said Monday that he wants to play more people at safety. But he says the players behind Barton and Petty aren't ready to see serious action yet.
Barton said he and Petty have formed a pretty good partnership so far at safety.
And he said that if they have to the two can keep carrying the load for Illinois.
>>Illinois, Texas State Game Time Moved To 3 pm
The Big Ten Conference announced times and television information for the weekend of Sept. 20 on Monday. The Fighting Illini home game against Texas State at Memorial Stadium is set for 3 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPNews.
San Jose State at Minnesota will also be played at 3 pm to be aired on the Big Ten Network. Other Big Ten games to start at 3 will be the Massachusetts at Penn State game, aired on the Big Ten Network, and Indiana at Missouri, to be aired on the SEC network.
Texas State (1-0) plays Navy at home this Saturday. The Fighting Illini are at Washington this Saturday before returning to Memorial Stadium on Sept. 20 to host the Bobcats.